The Jakarta Post
With airfares skyrocketing for the Idul Fitri exodus in the coming two weeks, traveling by car will be the choice of many homebound holiday revelers, particularly those leaving for Central and East Java. A recent survey by the Transportation Ministry found that 14.9 million people living in Greater Jakarta will celebrate the post-Ramadan festival in their hometowns, with 4.3 million of them opting to drive and 4.5 million taking the bus.
Learning from past years and in an attempt to improve services for homebound travelers, the government has decided to apply one-way traffic on the trans-Java toll road. The policy will be effective from May 30 to June 2, affecting more than 230 kilometers between Cikarang in Bekasi, West Java, and the West Brebes exit gate in Central Java. The same arrangement will be implemented for the return flow of traffic from June 8 to 10, beginning at Palimanan toll gate in Cirebon, West Java, to Cikarang.
The one-way policy was chosen over other alternatives like the odd-even license plate number policy, which is currently in place on a number of Jakarta thoroughfares during rush hours on weekdays. Land Transportation Director General Budi Setiyadi said the odd-even policy would have been difficult to enforce and would inconvenience holidaymakers who are keen on traveling in groups, even in convoys.
Budi said the one-way traffic plan would reduce congestion on the trans-Java toll road, which in 2016 contributed to the loss of a dozen lives. The travelers reportedly died of exhaustion after their vehicles were stuck in gridlock for hours ahead of the newly inaugurated East Brebes exit gate in Central Java. The horrific congestion stemmed from bottlenecking as cars exiting the toll road were met by traffic lights.
During last year’s Idul Fitri exodus the one-way traffic system was partially implemented only as a last resort to ease congestion on certain parts of the trans-Java. The government won plaudits for its experiment, which in general resulted in less chaotic traffic last year.
With more sections operational this year, not to mention the implementation of one-way traffic, the trans-Java toll road will be the best route for holidaymakers looking to reach their hometowns. Congestion, however, will remain inevitable if supporting facilities are not ready.
Last year, congestion occurred on the route between Cirebon and Brebes because a number of rest areas were not yet operating. Many travelers wishing to take a toilet break, relieve stiff muscles or refuel had to queue before their cars could enter the only rest areas available.
Rest areas are important facilities, especially because the 2009 Traffic Law requires drivers to take at least 30 minutes break after driving for four consecutive hours. Many seem to ignore this requirement, despite studies concluding that exhaustion is the primary cause of traffic accidents. Hopefully the new, better traffic arrangement will facilitate the journey and reduce the number of accidents. The National Police reported 389 accidents during the Idul Fitri exodus last year, down by 20 percent from 485 in 2017.